Thursday, July 19, 2007

if it's Wednesday, it must be Falun Gong

One of the perks of working in the Loop is all the free entertainment available at lunchtime. I'm not just talking about free concerts at Daley Plaza, the Cultural Center or other places. There's plenty of entertainment to be had thanks to all the political demonstrations at Federal Plaza, Daley Plaza and Thompson Center. Sometimes it's just goofy. Sometimes it's educational.

I work near the Federal Plaza. Over the last few years, I've seen demonstrators for Falun Gong nearly every Wednesday year round. It's usually a small group of demonstrators handing out literature, holding signs, doing slow tai chi to gentle music. It tends to be one of the mellowest protest groups.

I've seen Israelis vs. Palestinians out there. Needless to say it is anything but mellow. Falun Gong draws no police attention. Israelis vs. Palestinians gets a large police presence with barriers. When the Enron/Arthur Andersen debacle was going on, I remember looking out the windows onto Dearborn to see thousands of Arthur Andersen employees pouring out of their office building, across the street from ours, filling the street and shutting down traffic in a large area of the Loop during lunch. Even if you weren't watching, it was hard not to hear the sounds of 6,000 voices.

Aside from political demonstrations, another form of lunchtime entertainment is media campouts around City Hall, the Thompson Center, and the courts at the Daley Center and the Dirksen Federal building. There's been a lot of action lately, with the Conrad Black trial and the Family Secrets trial.

Things have quieted down a bit since most of the action is done with the Black case. Looks like they're waiting for more action in Family Secrets today. I was amused by the appearance of one press photographer, with two enormous Nikons sporting giant telephoto lenses and flashes and two camera bags, all slung across his body, making him look like the photo bandito.

Ah, what entertainment will tomorrow bring?

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